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From left, THA Secretary of Health and Wellness, Tracy Davidson-Celestine, Minister of Trade and Industry paula Gopee-Scoon, THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, Sport Minister and MP for Tobago West Shamfa Cudjoe, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West and Minister of Tourism Randall Mitchell at a meeting at the Magdelene Grand hotel in Tobago yesterday.

Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon is giving the assurance that there is no food shortage in Trinidad and Tobago. The announcement was made during a news conference held at the Magdalena Grand Hotel in Tobago yesterday.

Gopee-Scoon said that despite the panic buying by citizens on both islands due to threats of COVID-19, the Government has done estimations and are confident that there is an adequate amount of basic food items to last six months.

“We can give the assurance that there is no shortage of food supplies in Trinidad and Tobago. I can say with certainty that we took a granular and detailed approach in determining the list of basic food items, what are the quantities in the country at this time, what are the quantities on the water, shooting for overall food security certainty for at least six months and we are pretty much satisfied that there is food in the country, there’s food underway, at least for the basic items” she said.

Minister Gopee-Scoon said the Cabinet-appointed committee on Business and Manufacturing was charged with the responsibility of ensuring food security, business sustainability, and employment sustainability. She said a number of recommendations were made and would be executed soon.

She said provisions were also being made to have foreign exchange support to importers and manufacturers who require input in the food and beverage sectors to the tune of US$100 million.

“That is going to be managed largely by the EXIM Bank, as you know which has been conducting a facility for financing arrangements for inputs into manufacturing foreign currency support systems. We are going to be assisting in terms of ensuring that the support is going to be given to the right particular individuals and businesses that are involved in the importation of food, cleaning supplies and medication, all of which we term emergency supplies so that to ensure there’s the least disruption possible in satisfying the needs of our citizens at this crucial time,” Gopee-Scoon said.

Commenting on inter-island transportation, Gopee-Scoon said the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago has very clear arrangements for the ferries, including the cargo vessel. She said, they would be operating on schedule and there would be no disruption with supplies to Tobago.

Yesterday, THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, met with Cabinet Ministers and members of the Tobago business community and tourism sector to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the Tobago economy.